Having due regard to the weakened economies both rugby bodies operate in, they acknowledged that the fight against the Euro and Pound is simply one they cannot win.
With every World Cup year, comes the exodus of Southern Hemisphere players to the North where they seek out a big pay day post World Cup; 2019 has seen it on a much larger scale for all teams. The New Zealanders seemingly hit the hardest at this point as many of their stars have already announced deals with various overseas clubs.
Both South Africa and Argentina have made it a point in the past to only select players who play their trade at home. With each country allowing for some variation in this regard. Argentina allowing a relaxation of the rule based on inherent requirements and injuries, whilst the Springboks made players with more than 30 caps eligible. The Springboks later revised, by allowing additional players without 30 caps to be selected if necessary. Such an exemption was used to select Faf De Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe in 2018.
Both teams have now made the decision however, not to compete with the stronger currencies. The decision has been taken that they will now select players from wherever they are based, on merit and they will make full use of Regulation 9 to do so.
For the sake of brevity, Regulation 9 essentially entails the following:
- A Union MUST release a player for a National team including adequate preparation time and matches.
- No union may prohibit the release of a player contractually.
- The release applies to all sanctioned release periods (essentially all World Rugby competitions as well as the June and November test windows)
- For ordinary competitions the player must join the team 5 clear days before the match.
- In a World Cup the player must join the team 35 days prior to the first match.
- Southern Hemisphere teams are limited to 12 weeks release per year, with the Northern teams receiving 11 weeks.
- 14 days’ notice of the requested release is required unless pursuant to injury needs.
In line with this regulation, both the Pumas and Springboks will be able to select whomever they need for their relevant matches as sanctioned by World Rugby. In the past the National teams would reach agreement with clubs on the use of players, such as Willie Le Roux being required to return to his club mid Rugby Championship.
What the statements by the two teams have done however is send a warning off to the Northern Hemisphere clubs. They may purchase whomever they want, however they should expect in excess of 12 weeks of absence from top international players. This is a big shift from the previous give and take seen between club and country.
Whilst the Northern Hemisphere clubs have the money to spend, they may think twice about taking away too many players from these shores as they could end up footing the bill for a player who hardly turns out for the club.
Although the All Blacks and Australia at this point are sticking to their rules regarding eligibility, they too may be forced to re-asses these going forward. The allure of the international jersey has given way to the big pay days as players seek to secure their financial futures before their playing days are over.
2020 will be an interesting year as we see the new selection policies put in place and it will be telling to see which players from Argentina and South Africa get snapped up in light of the new stances taken by both management bodies.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image Credit: SARugby Travel